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GETMYSPARK's Photo GETMYSPARK SparkPoints: (6,010)
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5/4/14 9:37 A

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I needed a goal to move some physical therapy and acute laziness along. So just signed up to do a HM in October. I did this race last year (my first HM) and signed up 11 months in advance.


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5/1/14 6:55 P

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After completing a 10K training program and running my first 10K last weekend, I started on a 12 week 13.1 program for a local race in late July. I signed up Monday for the race (it isn't one known for filling up) if anything to make sure I stay committed to training for the event (so I don't end up losing money by quitting).



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4/30/14 11:48 P

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There are some that i know i will do pretty much every year so i will sign up for those several months in advance to get a cheaper rate. Of course, there have been times when I end up not doing one for whatever reason (sick, injured, etc.), so there is always that risk. But, I will take the risk because I find that when I actually commit to races as I am training, it gives me small goals and keeps my momentum going.

If we all did the things we are capable of doing we would literally astound ourselves.

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MARTHASKI's Photo MARTHASKI Posts: 60
4/27/14 3:25 P

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I like to get a rough idea of my race schedule for the year, blocking out major races and then penciling in fun ones in between. I have however burned myself doing this before - this winter weather wise was really an unproductive one between the icy conditions and an injury. I had a trail half scheduled for early April that I had to drop out of.
That's why I love the half so much though - it's fairly reasonable to always be in shape enough to be able to finish one once you do your first, unless you are sick or injured. I set my goal races late enough in the season and far enough apart to be in my best conditioning, maybe if I lived in a different climate where outdoor running was a viable option year round, it would be different.
I like everyone's pragmatic responses to this question, though. Definitely food for thought.

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CATIATM's Photo CATIATM Posts: 35,575
4/27/14 2:35 P

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It depends. I don't live in the U.S. so I often have to plan pretty far out and sign up early. On the other hand, I don't always know when I can be some place, so then I sign up at the last minute. And with Disney, sooner is better. Both the Avengers and the WDW weekend sold out the day they opened!

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PASTAFARIAN's Photo PASTAFARIAN Posts: 1,949
4/21/14 4:29 P

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Since so many people mentioned the desire to sign up for HMs as soon as possible, I thought it might be interesting to see a sampling of early-price cutoffs so you could see where your fav HM falls on the spectrum. By "spectrum", I used my usual dataset: 40 HMs within an hour's drive of me (DC,MD,VA, WV, DE area)

The first column shows the numbers of days between the race date and the early-price cutoff. Three races are 0, meaning you can register on race-morning and pay the same fee as everyone who pre-registered AND the race has never turned people away (i.e., no max cap or has never hit it).

And some races fill so quickly that the effective early cutoff is even earlier than what is officially advertised. For those races, I used the actual day the races closed out.

Some of these cutoffs are so far in advance, I have trouble believing anyone can even get that price. (Several times I have received initial race announcements *after* the early bird period has ended.)

And the "winner" (a dubious distinction) for requiring you to register the soonest in advance for the early price: Baltimore HM with 352 days or 11¾ months to get that early price. And it's not because Baltimore fills quickly. No, it's (in my opinion) so they can justify their screamingly high "late" price of $90 to register *more* than 200 days in advance. And if you miss the 200 day cutoff, the price goes to a zesty $100 and after several more steps to $135 the last days before the race!

Does anyone register for HMs a year in advance?!

0 Riley's Rumble
0 Chestertown
0 Freedom's Run
3 Gar Williams
4 Iron Girl Columbia
7 Dover AFB
7 LEAD Strong
14 ZOOMA Annapolis Women's
20 Bachman Valley
21 Harpers Ferry
29 Loudon
39 Parks
44 B&A Trail
45 Dahlgren Trail
46 Marine Corp Historic
60 Maryland
62 VHTRC Women's
62 Fountainhead Off-Road
63 EX2 Off-Road
85 Alexandria Running Festival
106 Abebe Bikila Day International Peace
118 Runners Marathon of Reston
125 Dorchester YMCA Crab Run
126 Western Maryland Women's
131 TCS Annapolis
140 Potomac River Run (Fall)
151 Heritage
151 Virginia Wine Country
155 Potomac River Run (Spring)
156 Nike Women's
159 North Face Endurance Challenge
166 Divas in DC Wine Country
166 Rock'n'Roll USA
174 Woodrow Wilson Bridge
178 Ocean City
195 St Michaels
217 Frederick
230 Half and Half
252 Rehoboth Beach
352 Baltimore

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LADYRINO's Photo LADYRINO SparkPoints: (58,230)
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12/3/13 2:16 P

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Thanks Pastafarian! I will check those out and see what fits the race calendar - that is awesome!!

"When I first started running, I was so embarrassed, I'd walk when cars passed me. I'd pretend I was looking at the flowers."
Joan Benoit Samuelson
Olympic Marathon Winner


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PASTAFARIAN's Photo PASTAFARIAN Posts: 1,949
12/2/13 3:29 P

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I still haven't finished all the columns but I can at least show the prices for DC-area HMs. (And yes, these are all HMs despite some of the names that suggest otherwise.) To reflect popular demand, these are all the *early* prices. I have left off fees for registration services (such as Active and imAthlete, generally 5% to 10%) as well as unusual discounts (e.g., student discount). Those will appear separately in the final spreadsheet.

$5 DC - Gar Williams
$10 MD - Bachman Valley
$20 MD - Riley's Rumble
$25 DC - Half and Half
$30 DE - Dover AFB
$35 MD - LEAD Strong
$40 MD - Dorchester YMCA Crab Run
$40 VA - Heritage
$45 VA - VHTRC Women's
$45 WV - Freedom's Run
$45 MD - Western Maryland Women's
$50 VA - Alexandria Running Festival
$50 WV - Harpers Ferry
$55 MD - Parks
$60 MD - B&A Trail
$60 DC - Abebe Bikila Day International Peace
$60 VA - EX2 Off-Road
$60 VA - Fountainhead Off-Road
$60 DE - Rehoboth Beach
$60 MD - Potomac River Run (Fall)
$65 MD - Potomac River Run (Spring)
$65 MD - Ocean City
$65 MD - St Michaels
$65 MD - Frederick
$65 VA - North Face Endurance Challenge
$75 MD - Maryland
$75 MD - TCS Annapolis
$80 MD - Chestertown
$80 MD - Baltimore
$85 VA - Runners Marathon of Reston
$85 MD - Woodrow Wilson Bridge
$90 MD - Iron Girl Columbia
$90 DC - Rock'n'Roll USA
$105 MD - ZOOMA Annapolis Women's
$105 VA - Virginia Wine Country
$175 DC - Nike Women's

As I've said before, price is only one metric by which you might want to choose a race but in my experience, there is an inverse correlation between price and enjoyment - in part because the expensive HMs are mostly commercial ventures trying to maximize their return at your expense. Reread my previous post on this topic for details:

www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
ur
nal_individual.asp?blog_id=4733846


Note: I am missing the fee for one race: Marine Corps Historic Half because their website shows neither this past year's price nor next year's price. It's supposed to open in Feb so I'll get the figures then.

Edited by: PASTAFARIAN at: 12/6/2013 (11:48)
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CHANGINGHORSES's Photo CHANGINGHORSES SparkPoints: (45,379)
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11/23/13 5:49 A

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UGH! All we wanna do is run for Pete's sake! That Nike registration sounds like a PIA!
I hate all the extra steps in some races and really appreciate my small town races.

Live your life as though you are obligated to make the world a better place. Make a difference today.


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PASTAFARIAN's Photo PASTAFARIAN Posts: 1,949
11/22/13 6:57 P

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I'm trying to figure out how to list mandatory fees in the HM-pricing spreadsheet. Many of the races use services such as Active or imAthlete which have sliding scales for their fees. I'd like to have columns showing early price, last price, the fees for each, and their totals. But that's 6 columns plus it forces me to go through the registration process for all these races in order to see what the numbers actually come to.

Having gone through several of them, I am astounded that people go along with how intrusive some of these race registrations have become. I just finished fake-registering for the Nike Women's HM and, among many other questions, it insisted I give my income and ethnicity - and there is no option to decline. Wow.

Anyway, I suspect most people only care about the two totals (early price + fee, late price + fee) but even that's questionable since the registration companies sell memberships that let people avoid the fees, you can also avoid some of the fees by mailing your registration, etc, etc. (As an aside, more and more races are charging for mail-in registrations - the only question is whether they charge less or more than the online registration services!)

There are a couple of other permutations and it's just getting too messy to show all the prices so now I'm thinking of just having four price-related columns:

Early price
Late price
Mandatory Fees
Discounts

For discounts, I'm just going to list the simple ones such as "$10 off for military" or "$25 for students". I'll put the things like Active.com discounts under Fees.

For fees, I'll just give a absolute $ amount (if it exists) or say "Active.com" (for example) and let the reader do the computation to accommodate people who have or don't have such accounts. Alas, this is pretty tricky as some of the registration services (e.g., imAthlete) hide their formula.

The drawback of this is it obscures how some of these registration fees are quite high. (For example, the $175 Nike Women's HM has a mandatory fee of $7.63. Of course, this is hidden until the very last page of the registration - when you've gone through 15 minutes of questions (and yes we really insist you create a nike account and yes the password needs upper and lowercase and numbers and must be longer and ...) so by then you're committed to finishing the registration come hell or high water.)

Ack, my head hurts.


Edited by: PASTAFARIAN at: 11/22/2013 (19:42)
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CHANGINGHORSES's Photo CHANGINGHORSES SparkPoints: (45,379)
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11/20/13 8:53 P

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Generally speaking the races that I sign up for are rather low cost and I don't worry about "if I miss it". I have been running for 4 years now and have only missed one race that I signed up for and did not go due to sickness and distance. If it was closer, I would have went anyway and walked it just to get it done.

If I was in a high dollar area maybe I would do things differently. I don't know. My average cost for a race is $15-20 for 5 and 10k. $45-55 for half's.

Live your life as though you are obligated to make the world a better place. Make a difference today.


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STRIVERONE's Photo STRIVERONE SparkPoints: (129,659)
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11/20/13 4:49 P

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PASTAFARIAN,
Thank you for the work you are doing on this. I'm sure it will be very useful to many of us.


You don't need to beat anyone else to be a winner.


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PASTAFARIAN's Photo PASTAFARIAN Posts: 1,949
11/20/13 4:44 P

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Thanks for the feedback! Overwhelming support was expressed for signing up as early as possible. So I'm going to add a column to the spreadsheet for the early-bird price and the # of days you must register before the race to get that price. I've already got one listed as 8 months early!

I am still shocked at the preference for early-as-possible registration. With expensive races ($85 and up), you're typically looking at a 5 month period during which you better not get injured, training goes well, work conflict doesn't arise, etc.

Mathematically, it's a no-brainer to skip the early fees. The savings from missing (and not having to pay for) just one such race a year more than makes up for the extra $ you'd have to pay for late registration fees for 4-6 other races each year!

I understand some people schedule their vacations around races but I think that's even riskier and never do that. The only exception I would ever make is for a few problematic races that sell out before the early registration period ends. PS: For those, I'll list the sell-out date instead of the early-reg-end-date since it's pointless to show dates that you can't actually use. Similarly for "secret" early deadlines (i.e., early registrations that are never advertised).


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CKTALL's Photo CKTALL Posts: 388
11/10/13 1:10 P

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as soon as possible just to make the committment

A failure is only a failure if you don't get up and try again...author unknown


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FITFOODIE806's Photo FITFOODIE806 Posts: 2,523
11/4/13 9:14 P

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I register early as possible to get the lowest cost. I meet with my running group and we plan out our racing seasons together. We don't all do the same races, but it gives people an idea. And I'm cheap so I always take the early bird pricing!

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LADYRINO's Photo LADYRINO SparkPoints: (58,230)
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11/4/13 12:23 P

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Since I tend to travel for my HMs - I tend to sign up quite early. It is nice to get the discount on the race price - but usually I am worried about the airline prices and book early there too. I usually find a race and then look at the airline prices and if I have a winning combo sign up for both at the same time....would hate to have a race and no way to get there or vice versa.

"When I first started running, I was so embarrassed, I'd walk when cars passed me. I'd pretend I was looking at the flowers."
Joan Benoit Samuelson
Olympic Marathon Winner


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CHANGINGHORSES's Photo CHANGINGHORSES SparkPoints: (45,379)
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11/4/13 6:59 A

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I've only done one but I like to sign up for races early enough for the discounts. Must make the decision very soon about an upcoming April half for discount. Sounds like a fun one, but I am not sure how training over the winter months would go.


Live your life as though you are obligated to make the world a better place. Make a difference today.


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THE_SHAKESHAFT's Photo THE_SHAKESHAFT SparkPoints: (136,567)
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11/3/13 5:07 A

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I usually sign up as see as I see something advertised. I like to be able to keep my calendar in order :)

Life is for living!

Don't let yourself down.


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TIMOTHYNOHE's Photo TIMOTHYNOHE Posts: 4,317
11/1/13 11:05 P

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Since I enjoy traveling to run, catching 50 States, I like to live dangerously and sign up months in advance. In most races with a sliding rate structure ... big corporate races mostly, but small to medium community races also do this ... the race cost is usually lower for early sign up.

Of course the cost of the race is not the long pole in the tent for travel races. Airfare, hotel, car, and food actually drive the cost much more.

Getting the best rates on these sometimes requires time to plan. Airfare may be cheaper earlier, but hotels tend to go down in price the closer to the date. Car and food are pretty static.

For local races, I usually do those close to the date of the race. Injury, weather, other things come up, etc. Big ones like Frederick Running Festival, Baltimore Running Festival, Marayland Half Marathon, those I sign up early for.

So. I think early bird would be a good way, but indicate it's an early bird rate and give the web site link.

Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible and suddenly you will be doing the impossible -- St Francis of Assisi

Rock 'n' Roll Dublin Half Marathon, Dublin, Ireland, 8/5/2013
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YARDWALKER's Photo YARDWALKER SparkPoints: (68,063)
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11/1/13 8:13 P

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I registered in October for a race in March to get the special discounted pricing, it can be cancelled if need be.


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SKIRNIR's Photo SKIRNIR Posts: 5,247
11/1/13 8:07 P

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Maybe this will change for me, but I registered for my second half marathon about 2 days ago and it is December 1st. For me, it is about convincing myself I can do it in the time alloted and feeling somewhat ready before I sign up. As I get more used to doing half marathons this may change though, especially if I start deciding to travel for a half marathon.

The one I signed up for starts out at $40 early registration which ended about 4 months before the race, then $50 now and if you wait until mid November then $55. Not a huge difference.

Edited by: SKIRNIR at: 11/1/2013 (20:10)
3/31/12 Trailbreaker half marathon 13.1 miles in 3 hours 13 minutes
4/20/13 Neighborhood Watch 5K 39:17.6
10/5/13 5K Grace Pet Fest 38:47.6
12/1/13 Secret City Half Marathon around 3 hours and 4 minutes
4/19/14 Butterflies for Hope 5K for Lupus 39:23.8 (I hurt my back a few days before, and though it was my first official 5K with some jogging, my back hurt, so was very slow.)


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KAPELAKIN's Photo KAPELAKIN Posts: 1,973
11/1/13 6:53 P

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I usually register 1-2 months out. That's close enough to the race that I feel pretty sure I can finish the training and not have an injury or something else happen, but far enough out that I can hone my training for the race once I know I'm in it. Being actually registered helps with the commitment to training, at least for me.

For the HM I'm running tomorrow, regular registration was $45 up until Oct. 9, and from there it goes up to I think $85 by race day. I just flat wouldn't pay that much to run it. $45 is about as much as I'm willing to pay for a HM period.

Voluntary Discomfort is the secret cornerstone of strength. We build our whole lives around increasing comfort and avoiding discomfort, and yet by doing so we are drinking a can of Weakness Tonic with every morning’s breakfast. ~Mr. Money Mustache
5K PR: 23:40
10K PR: 48:57
HM PR: 1:59:37
30K: 2:57:44


STRIVERONE's Photo STRIVERONE SparkPoints: (129,659)
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11/1/13 6:06 P

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There are four half marathons and two full marathons that I know I want to do every year for as long as I can. These, I would want to register for as early as possible in order to get the lowest price and to have a framework within which to schedule my other efforts.


You don't need to beat anyone else to be a winner.


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PASTAFARIAN's Photo PASTAFARIAN Posts: 1,949
11/1/13 4:44 P

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I'm working on an update of my annual HM Prices survey. Here's the one from last year:

www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
ur
nal_individual.asp?blog_id=4733846


One problem I've wrestled with is whether to compare regular prices or early-bird prices. For instance, I just received an email from a race I did last year. The email says registration is open but when I went to register, it turns out the early-bird period had already passed. How was I supposed to take advantage of the early bird price when I didn't even know about it?

Some races have the opposite problem: If you don't register very quickly, they fill up. The regular price is misleading because no one ever pays it.

And even for less popular races, "regular" prices aren't comparable either. Some HMs have "regular" prices that end four months pre-race while some end 1 week pre-race! And yet others have a sliding scale with 4 or 5 different prices as the races draws closer.

How best to indicate all this complexity?

Or should I just declare that I'm going to do an apples-to-apples comparison and pick a date (say, 3 months pre-race) as the price to use? Initially, I thought that would be good enough since 3 months is about as early as I bother to register but I know people who register for races as soon as they open. Some people make serious travel plans around their races.

This verges somewhat into the quandry of whether to register early/late so I thought I'd make a list to see if there's an obvious reason to lean one way or the other. Here's my first cut:

Reasons for registering early:
- Lowest rate
- Guarantee of getting in.
- Helps some people get motivated to train.
- Some races only guarantee shirts/sizes to earlier registrants.
- More time to convince other friends to join in.

Reasons for registering late:
- Flexibility to choose different activities/races later.
- No risk (or guilt) of making an injury worse if already mildly injured
- No loss of money if:
--- haven't trained
--- injured
--- weather doesn't suit you
- You can see which races your friends have registered for.

Yes, not all of these apply to all races or all people. I'm not trying to make explain hard rules. But I do get the feeling that for most people here, early registration helps with motivation. Personally, I'm on the other side - I'd rather pay more for the flexibility. (Or stick to races that have low-cost late registration.)

So what's the best way to show this? Spreadsheet with prices that are 1 week out, 1 month out, 3 months, 6 months? Does everyone fall into one of this camps? Or would you prefer a different period?


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